Un-Abandoning Your Dreams: The Somber Dawn Origin Story

Welcome to the inaugural weekly blog post from Somber Dawn Studios. It seems only fitting to start off with the story of why we're doing what we're doing.

Let's start with a ridiculously cliché question: What did you want to be when you grew up? My childhood dream was to make video games. I loved playing them, so, from a kid's perspective it was a dream job. Beginning in my early teens, I did what almost everyone does with their childhood dreams: I settled. I realized that making video games was a pie-in-the-sky fantasy, so I started pursuing more "realistic" options. I focused on getting an education in the tech field.

That's not to say my passion for gaming was dead. As much as I hate to reinforce tired old stereotypes, my high school friends were the geeks. We played everything we could get our hands on. Video games, card games, tabletop games, whatever. We loved them all. When we weren't playing Magic: The Gathering, we were partying up in World of Warcraft. When we weren't doing either of those we were at the D&D table.

Some of us are still pretty passionate about our shiny D&D toys.

Some of us are still pretty passionate about our shiny D&D toys.

After high school there was a bit of a "friend-drift", at least for me. While most of my compadres stayed in the area, I moved across the state for college. We'd still party up for various online games from time to time, and I'd always visit when I was home, but there wasn't the same closeness we had back in the day.

Fast forward a few years. I graduated with an IT degree, worked at the university full time for a few years, and then moved to St. Louis. Among the old crew families had been started, more school had been attended, and various jobs had been worked.

During a visit to my home town, a few of my buddies wanted to show me a project they'd been working on in their spare time. It was a video game. They'd put together a few levels for a retro 2D platformer they dubbed Intrusion Protocol.

Shameless plug: This project is currently on  Greenlight  if you feel inclined to give it a a vote.

Shameless plug: This project is currently on Greenlight if you feel inclined to give it a a vote.

They wanted to do more than show me the project. They wanted me to be a part of it. Making this game made them want to create a legit game studio. They even had a name already: Somber Dawn Studios. I initially responded the way most busy twenty-somethings would:

Meh. I dunno.

I was working full time and lived a pretty active life outside of my job. I didn't really have time to be a part of a hefty project just for giggles. After a few weeks of thought I agreed to contribute. At first, I kept it all at arm's length. It was a cool thing to be involved with, but I didn't have a ton of time to devote.

One evening while they were in town scoping out a St. Louis Game Developer Co-Op event, I asked them the obvious question I hadn't asked yet for some reason: Why did you name it Somber Dawn Studios? Our Creative Director, Will, and our Lead Developer, Grady, each had a morning when they awoke to realize they were not living their lives quite how they intended. They didn't want to be doing their jobs for the rest of their lives. It was a somber feeling that had dawned on them, hence the name.

In that moment, I was 12 again. I thought about what I had done with my own career. I was well aware that I had settled, but until that moment it never hit me that hard. Maybe the dream I left long ago wasn't a fantasy after all. Maybe this was actually a chance to grab life by the throat and go for what I really wanted.

In one night I went from half-assed to all-in.

Since then I've treated Somber Dawn Studios as a real job. I'm still working full time, but outside of normal work hours I'm giving this dream what it deserves, and what it deserves is everything I've got. It's gonna be a wild ride, and we're all determined to see it through.

Look at us now: Making games and loving it.

Look at us now: Making games and loving it.

If we can make our dreams a reality, then so can you... Yes, I'm aware of how disgustingly corny that is. See you next week, folks!

UPDATE: Intrusion Protocol launches August 2017!